Dutchy in Cornwall goes shopping

 

Every Wednesday morning, at 10:10 sharp, a taxi comes round to take me to Morrisons’ supermarket. I don’t have a car. Yes, I have a drivers license, but I do not like driving here. And this is why, my sweet, English friends: you are driving on the wrong side of the road! And your roundabouts, they are wrong too. They should go the other way round! The steer in the car: should be on the left! And you made a mess of the clutch position, it needs to be on the right side! Now how do you suppose me to drive safely with all these faults… I say this again and again, but it seems as if no-one is listening. You are a danger on the road, believe me. And as long as you are driving that dangerously, I’m happy to be a pedestrian.

Okay, let’s return to my story about shopping. Morrisons offers services like warm roasted chicken, fresh flowers, fresh fish, meat, bread, a coffee shop, toilets and the lottery. You can store your full trolley in a locker and have a coffee. Or breakfast. The supermarket is a meeting place. Whenever you feel lonely, go to Morrisons.

This time I met my friend Lynn, who had had her birthday a few days ago, so we did some hugging. Adrian the fishmonger was busy skinning a piece of haddock. Deep in his heart, he’d rather be at sea in his little fishing boat. Sad to say he needs this bit of money, to make ends meet. In the aisles I said hello to Sean, one of the re-stockers of shelves. He doesn’t like to work at the checkout, it makes him nervous. He is a gentle lad. A bit further I saw that Isobelle had joined the ranks, once she used to work at Boots Pharmacy.

I said to Sharon, my cashier, that she must know what her customers are like by the food that they are buying, ‘Oh yeah’, she said, looked at my groceries and smiled. Since it was drizzling outside, the coffee shop was packed, Louise, behind the counter, was loaded with work . Families, couples, singles, party goers. And outside there’s always Darren, pushing the trolleys from one side to the other.

They all wear a name-badge. Now imagine we would look at these people, imagine that we would pay not only for our shopping, but that we also would pay attention to those who work here. And that we would say ‘Hello Sharon, thank you’, ‘How are you doing, Sean?’, ‘Have a nice day, Darren!’

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Dutchy in Cornwall and the hairdresser

 

Does anyone know how many hairdressers we have in Bude? Have a guess… ten, fifteen maybe? Well hold on, there goes… Clip Joint, Liz Britton, Just Gentz, Bude Hairdressing, Phoenix Hair Design, Tiffanys Hair Design, Scissor Trix, Shine, Obsession Hair Art, Nicole, Singer Q, Deb ‘N’ Hair & Beauty, Salon Y2K, Hair Evolution, Johns Hairstylist, Cutz Ahead, M. Roland, W.E. Roe, Penleaze, and Colin Danks Hair Ltd.

Twenty-one hairdressers, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten one or two. That’s of course why people who live in Bude look so good. We all have our own personal hairdresser, (albeit that we have a bit more folks coming in during Summer).

From all of these hairdressers I know only one: Liz Britton. Liz used to have her own shop, next to the golf course. Unfortunately her lease ended, her landlord was being difficult and in the end the shop was closed. So now Liz is working without overhead. She hops around with her scissors and tools, she visits her clients at home, and she rents a chair in existing salons of her so-called competitors.

A little while ago, when I noticed in the mirror that it was time for a haircut, I phoned Liz. “Yes, Cora, I can book you in, coming Tuesday.” And Liz summoned me to come to the shop ‘Age and See’, Belle Vue lane. ‘Age and See’, what a funny name for a hairdresser-shop, I pondered…

So, at the appointed time I went to this little side street and looked for the shop. Nothing. Nada. Well, there is only this hairdresser at number 9, called ‘H & C’… Slowly the penny dropped.

The owners, Heather and Catherine, rent ladies hats as well. One of their walls is covered with all sorts of hats. Isn’t that good to know, for when the Ascot Races take place? (3rd September). Anyway, Liz did me a lovely haircut (we whispered softly, in case the rivals might hear how she did her job).

And all that happened about about six weeks ago… looking in the mirror now, I think it’s time for a fresh haircut. So I will call Liz, let’s see where she’s hanging out this time.

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The Beginning: introduction

 

Once upon a time, I spoke a lot of Dutch. Probably because I was born in The Netherlands. And in those days, before I moved to the UK, I did many literary things. For instance, I was in charge of my own literary ‘salon’, like the French had in the 18th century. My cosy salon was situated in the centre of Amsterdam. I delivered talks and lectures on philosophers and writers of fiction. I led several book groups as well.

However, nowadays I communicate mostly in English. Because I have been married to an Englishman (bless him). Yes, been married, because he sadly passed away. And when your spouse dies, the marriage is being dissolved. Therefore, I am not married any more.

But in the years before he died, he taught me the ropes. About the English and their habits, about the pride of being English, about their naughty peculiarities, about swearing and no-no’s, and about council-tax. And one could say, that he planted me in Bude.

So, here I am, living in Bude. A lovely beach town. Special in many ways. Last year (or the year before?) Bude had the most hours of sunshine in the UK. Its geology is unique. A surfer’s paradise. One can find here the ocean, a harbour, a canal (with locks), a river, a lake and a sea swimming pool. The people who live here are special in many ways as well.

So yes, here I am, Dutchy in Cornwall. Now what will I do with the rest of my life… Will I manage to build again a social network, or will I disappear into a black hole… That’s what I’m going to write about.

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My Social Network

Hello there, nice to meet you. Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Cora, a white, middle-class female specimen. I live in a beach town in the South-West of England. No, I’m not English, I’m an original immigrant from the Netherlands.

Since about a year I live on my own. Not by choice though, my true love sadly passed away. Now, you might wonder, is the life that I live a lonely life? Yes – and no. Yes, because nobody watches me when I brush my teeth. No, because I have my social network. On a daily basis I see and talk to my English fellow-men. More remote, I have my Dutch relatives and friends. It is my intention to write in this blog about the community that I find myself in.

Monday 22 August

Today I met three of my neighbours. First, I met my neighbour next-door. Let’s call him Evan (not his real name). Evan returned from shopping in town, carrying three heavy- loaded carrier bags. Evan is always dressed in black. Black trousers, black T-shirt, black sunglasses. Blondish-grey hair plus a trimmed beard. At the moment he is renovating indoors and that’s not easy. Walls are crumbling down and that’s not what Evan wants. So he went back indoors to deal with this indoor problem.

Later I heard a knock at the door: Gaby (not her real name), my next-door-next neighbour. She was standing in my porch, behind a stroller buggy. In the buggy sat Aimee, the baby of the neighbours next to Gaby. Aimee’s mum works some weekdays at home and Gaby had offered to take baby out for a stroll. Would I like to join them? she asked. However, much to my regret I had to decline: my lunch (Tea? dinner?), my main meal was ready to be eaten. So I thanked her and they left.

Tonight I went to the beach, a fifteen minutes walk. Lovely weather. Although it was almost seven o’clock, there were still plenty of people rambling, playing, surfing, chatting. In front of their beach huts or at the beach. I met neighbour number three of today: Jacqui. She lives at an odd number, down the road, together with her little three-legged Spanish dog. ‘Oh, you look glamorous’, I told her. ‘You think so?’ she frowned, looking at the little plastic black bag that she held between index finger and thumb, with a rather stretched arm. Well, what has to be done, has to be done. But Jacqui had to move on. ‘Let’s catch up soon’ she called over her shoulder and walked away.

This was my Social Network of today. I wonder who I will meet tomorrow.

 

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